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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Western, transplanted to Australia, with startling results
A new cinematic sub genre now exists. The Australian western. The Proposition though transplants the mythic landscape of The American versions into a broiling sun/sand blasted fly plagued hell hole. It's not a nice place, slavered in heart that regularly fluctuates between 40-50 degrees centigrade. You sort of wonder why anyone would want to be there in the first...
Published on 5 May 2006 by russell clarke

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling but less than the sum of its parts
The Proposition has the kind of premise that Anthony Mann would have loved - wild colonial boy Guy Pearce is released into the outback to kill his psychotic older brother Danny Huston to save his younger brother from the noose by Ray Winstone's policeman determined to civilize his godforsaken corner of 19th century Australia. Unfortunately it never quite makes enough of...
Published on 25 July 2008 by Trevor Willsmer


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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Western, transplanted to Australia, with startling results, 5 May 2006
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
A new cinematic sub genre now exists. The Australian western. The Proposition though transplants the mythic landscape of The American versions into a broiling sun/sand blasted fly plagued hell hole. It's not a nice place, slavered in heart that regularly fluctuates between 40-50 degrees centigrade. You sort of wonder why anyone would want to be there in the first place.

But there people are, in 1880 the British have set up a settlement in Banyon, a newly established town in Queensland. Overseen by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) who along with his wife Martha (Emily Watson) have made a futile attempt to relocate their homeland into this godforsaken place with their net curtains carefully tended garden and roast Sunday lunches the settlement is under a pall of fear after a vicious gang of outlaws led by the psychopathic Arthur Burns (Danny Huston) have slaughtered a family of settlers. Stanley eager to tame this frontier land hunts down and captures Burns brothers Charlie (Guy Pearce) and his semi-retarded kid brother Mikey (Richard Wilson) and offers Charlie a gut wrenching proposal. In order to save Mickey and himself from the hangman he must hunt and kill his older brother.

Given 9 days to carry out this onerous task Charlie sets out on a journey redolent of Marlow's search for Kurtz in Conrad's "Heart Of Darkness", into an unforgiving unknown with god knows what horrors at the end of it.

The Proposition is as, everyone remotely interested in the film knows, is written by Nick Cave , and anyone familiar with his music, most notably it's preoccupation with death , murder and brutal lyricism , and also his novel "And The Ass Saw The Angel" will not be too surprised at the levels of violence. The blood letting is in all truth a little over the top straying too close to horror grand guignol at times but the exceptional performances by all the cast with notable cameos from John Hurt as aged bounty hunter Jellon Lamb and the expressive script more than compensate.

Directed by John Hillcoat who has collaborated with Cave on the film "Ghosts of The Civil Dead" who in turn wrote the rather fine sound track for Hillcoats "To Have And To Hold"( Cave provides the soundtrack here along with Bad Seeds stalwart Warren Ellis) the films themes are multi layered and complex utilising a number of dichotomous situations- family ties versus survival, civilisation versus the frontier, the subjugation of an indigenous population versus their willing co-operation , to produce a film that echoes richly with themes common with the traditional western yet gives them a slightly contemporary sadistic twist without compromising any of it's poetry or emotional resonance.

The western is alive and well and currently residing in Australia, but it's a more savage beast by far .
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Life is beautiful!" -The Proposition, 1 Nov 2006
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
The DVD

This is an excellent DVD package. On Disc 1 you get the superb main feature. On Disc 2 you'll find a raft of extras: loads of interviews and a Making of documentary that's almost as long (118 minutes) as the feature itself!

The Film

As for the film itself, the first point that must be made is that this is NOT a Western. Anyone who calls it a Western has no idea what they are talking about. A Western is a film about events taking place in the American West during the second half of the 19th Century, i.e. circa 1850-1900. There may be some variation on the date or location, e.g. drifting across the border into "Mehico", but what we're talking about is the good old Wild West.

The Proposition takes place in the Australian Outback in the late 19th Century. The parallels that exist with Westerns are fairly obvious (brutal landscapes, drifters on horses, indigenous population being mistreated by white settlers, gun-play, etc.) but that's where the similarities end. This is a morality tale concerning white settlers (British and Irish), indigenous aboriginals and local whites in Australia.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film for its beautiful photography, interesting characters, tense and foreboding story and brief history lesson on white settlement of the Australian Outback - not a subject one is overwhelmed with in films today.

The acting is outstanding from everyone in the film. Danny Huston (Arthur Burns) caught my eye in particular. Arthur, although a very violent and disturbing man, also comes across as intelligent, educated and not lacking a certain amount of integrity, at least where his `family' is concerned.

Guy Pearce puts in another fine, if limited, performance. For my money, Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential, Memento), as one of Australia's leading actors, is building up a body of work that has, in my opinion, already surpassed that of Mel Gibson (Gallipoli was probably Mel's best effort) and will soon rival that of the great Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander, The Insider, L.A. Confidential).

Other noteworthy performances come from the ever-excellent Ray Winstone, Emily Watson (the only female role in the film) and a very nice part for John Hurt.

Penned by Nick Cave (who, unsurprisingly provides the soundtrack), The Proposition is more than a violent tale of revenge and justice in an uncivilised and lawless land. It gets right into the heart of love, loyalty, beauty, colonialism, racism and so on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak but Absorbing, 20 Sep 2006
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
Like "The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada" Proposition reminded me of those classic 1960s westerns, although I guess if you had to directly compare it with one specific movie it would be "Ned Kelly". The story is set in the violent wastelands of an embryonic Australia and Ray Winstone plays a policeman determined to bring a gang of murderous brothers to justice, however his attempts to get the right man are undermined as his townsfolk turn into an unreasoning lynch mob determined to wreak revenge. Ray Winstone is, as usual, superb and Guy Pearce and Danny Huston provide us with another couple of broodingly powerful performances. We also get the added bonus of a superb John Hurt in a cameo as crazed and poetic bounty hunter. The cinematography is great and soundtrack could be destined to become a classic, a sort modern day version of Ennio Morricones spaghetti anthems. Definitely worth a watch but beware that this is a bleak film that pulls no punches.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling but less than the sum of its parts, 25 July 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Proposition [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
The Proposition has the kind of premise that Anthony Mann would have loved - wild colonial boy Guy Pearce is released into the outback to kill his psychotic older brother Danny Huston to save his younger brother from the noose by Ray Winstone's policeman determined to civilize his godforsaken corner of 19th century Australia. Unfortunately it never quite makes enough of it. Coming to it after both the excessive praise and the equally excessive backlash I wasn't disappointed, although the film does have problems. The most obvious is that screenwriter Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat become so enamoured of Winstone's character that he dominates the film to the detriment of not only the other players but the film itself: while there's none of his scenes that should be cut, neither Pearce nor Huston get nearly as much screentime. As a result, the central moral dilemma is kept firmly backstage and Huston's nature is only really hinted at rather than explored, although the violence, when it comes, is convincingly blunt. But at times it's almost as if Coppola had decided that instead on concentrating on Martin Sheen's killer in Apocalypse Now he'd make a film about the officer who sends him out to terminate with extreme prejudice instead.

It's a film with great things going for it - there's some fine dialogue, Hillcoat has a great visual sense and a striking eye for the Scope frame, while an underplayed Winstone is superb - but one that never becomes great.

Alsio released on a film-only single disc edition, Tartan's original 2-disc DVD doesn't include the featurettes from the US disc and the packaging gets the running time of the making of documentary wrong - it's 27 minutes, not 118 (that's the combined length with the cast and crew interviews), but is still a very good package, with an excellent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films of 2006, 23 July 2006
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
Switching the western genre to the Australian outback, Nick Cave provides here a meaty and rivetting script as the framework of one of the year's most visually stunning and musically haunting films. Cave, whose slowly evolving style has come to excell at capturing the poetry of the human condition, be it in his lyrics or prose, has carved out here a fantastic exploration of the ever-important questions surrounding the nature of loyalty, violence, justice, retribution and morality. The Proposition, whose plot is described in other reviews, serves to illustrate the absurdity of punitive justice as a means towards a more moral society, and roundly rejects to portray conflicts between people as simplistic good versus evil divides. Cleverly woven into all this are traditional themes of the hero tale and an unflinching confrontation with the nature of violence as a means to a morally good end. The film's failure to deliver the viewer from a predicable ending is only of secondary importance, given the gravity of its subject matter, its ghostly atmospheric setting, and exemplary performances, particularly from Ray Winston, whose character's struggle with the division of loyalties between the law, his wife and his humanity is conveyed masterfully. Detail and the diverse range of references to feminism, empire, and Christianity make this film a delight to behold and adorn its completely engrossing plot, whilst prompting the audience to reconsider some conventional wisdoms that too often slip past us unquestioned. I am grateful for such contributions to the film world, and call for more efforts like this one. Highly recommended.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suitably biblical take on the Western..., 23 July 2006
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
*May contain spoilers. Or may not *

'The Proposition' reunites writer Nick Cave with director John Hillcoat - the pair previously collaborating on 1988's grim prison movie 'Ghosts...of the Civil Dead' (Cave & the Bad Seeds also provided the soundtrack to the so-so 'To Have & To Hold'). Fans of Cave's records will note he has often nodded towards this kind of territory in songs such as 'Hamlet (Pow, Pow, Pow'), 'Jack the Ripper' & 'A Box for Black Paul', as well as his classic spin on Southern Gothic found in his sole novel to date, the brilliant 'And the Ass saw the Angel.' 'The Proposition' nods to the Old Testament side of Cave's work, one that he has veered away from since 1997 in his music, and it certainly has the feel of writers like William Faulkner & Flannery O'Connor.

The setting of the film gives an interesting spin on the Western, a genre that often surfaces in a manner that is spun in a direction - the indie film ('Dead Man'), the sub-Searchers wannabe ('The Missing'), the Costner vehicle ('Open Range') & a total failure such as the dire 'Dust.' Cave and Hillcoat bring their respective identities to this genre, nodding to the colonial past of Australia, apparent from the opening period photographs and the Aboriginal slaves. Cave's work recently has nodded to history and war (single 'Nature Boy' alluded to Vietnam, as did his unproduced screenplay for 'Gladiator 2'), and here his screenplay nods to a difficult period in Australian history, that many people will know through stuff like Ned Kelly.

The film opens with a violent shootout, which concludes with Charlie (Guy Pearce) & Mikey Burns being captured by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) who offers the former the proposition of the title: Mikey will hang on Christmas Day if Charlie doesn't track down and kill his brother Arthur (Danny Huston) who is holed up in a place where even the Aboriginal slaves won't go and who has committed a murder/rape in Stanley's area recently. Charlie has no choice, so sets off on his journey which recalls the visionary landscape found in Cave's novel - it should be noted that the cinematography is excellent and the whole cast and crew went out on a limb shooting in such a locale! (I'm guessing Cave stayed at home?)

The film sets up the birth of modern Australia under colonial rule, Stanley caught between doing the right thing and getting results for his boss (an unpleasant soul he shares some of the qualaties of Empire representatives found in films like A Passage to India and Lagaan). Stanley attempts to shield his wife from the horrors of the world they live in, though in a key scene Stanley's wife (played by the wonderful Emily Watson) plays a role in a brutal scene that recalls the scourging of Christ. Stanley knows what this means, leading to the punishing conclusion in which Charlie finds another path...

'The Proposition' is a bleak take on the Western, hard hitting stuff and the best example of the genre in years. All of its violence is justified, some of it reminded me of Cronenberg's 'A History of Violence' - I liked the way Arthur & Stanley's altercation took place off screen like Shakespeare (the wrapping of Stanley's head in a Union Jack was interesting also!). A great film and well worth watching, this DVD adds a bonus disc of extras that are of interest; the supporting cast is all fantastic (great to see Noah Taylor in there, he's always been a favourite of mine) and the music by Cave and fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis is brilliant. There simply isn't a film like this - imagine Sam Peckinpah with less camera trickery and a proper script!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph for all involved, 2 April 2007
By 
Matt Pucci "mattpucci.com" (Here, there and everywhere) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
I was blown away by this film when I saw it the first time at the cinema and was equally impressed when I bought this 2 disc package and watched it again in the privacy of my own home. With an unforgettable opening scene involving a terrifying shoot-out, it throws the viewer immediately into a maelstrom of savagery and lawlessness. This is the Australian Outback in the 19th Century - not a place for the faint-hearted or weak of spirit. Trying to make sense of it all is Captain Stanley, a respectable Englishman and robust officer of the law, and a well-mannered, doting husband to his dear wife, Martha (Emily Watson).

Upon capturing Charlie Burns, one of the most dangerous outlaws in the region, and his younger brother, Mikey, Stanley takes the gamble of a lifetime when he offers Charlie a pardon and the release of his brother for the head of Charlie's older brother, Arthur. What makes this film so gripping is the way in which the tension hangs so heavily in the stifling heat, a tension that is punctuated effectively by various acts of shocking brutality, desperation and betrayal in keeping with the film's unforgiving setting. Guy Pearce's portrayal of the staunch Charlie Burns is a triumph despite the fact that for much of the film, he is a solitary, silent figure. As a previous reviewer has suggested, it could be argued that both writer and director are rather too much in thrall to Ray Winstone's character (Stanley) as he appears on-screen far more than Pearce's. However, it would be churlish to criticize this aspect of the film too heavily - if at all - as Winstone's performance is one of utter magnificence.

Tense, violent and occasionally nauseous (notably, the scene in which young Mikey gets flogged), this is nevertheless one of the best films I've seen in recent years, and everyone involved in its making should be congratulated.

Matt Pucci
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Western, 18 Oct 2006
By 
Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco, CA. (Hercules)) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
There's nothing like a good western and "The Proposition" delivers the sharp-shooting goods non-stop. Director John Hillcoat has a true knack for thrusting the feel and grit of the Australian Outback in your face and keeping it there. From the first moment of a hardcore gunfight, we soon learn that Capt. Stanley has captured two of the four Burns brothers, noted for their murderous and especially heinous past. The Captain's proposition is for Brother Charlie to find and kill his older brother, Arthur. Otherwise, he will kill his younger brother, Mikey. Thus, Charlie ventures to the Outback. The large scale cinematography makes one feel like dirt is in your mouth and death is at your door. This is not for the timid, as Hillcoat bloodies the landscape just as much as any Clintwood western. It's graphic as hell. The final act shouldn't be a surprise, but Hillcoat pulls off a stunt of `switch and bait' that will make you laugh with shock even as you shake your head in disbelief. This is a classic western by way of a rough, vicious and clever Australia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Colonial Australian Outback Cops & Robbers With Flies, 14 Sep 2006
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
Dirty, dry, hot and cruel. Desert-slow with explosions of violence. Cruel, minimalist, life cut to the arid bone. Even the actors look like they haven't washed, shaved or changed their clothes for a month. Ray Winstone is good as usual, but seems to be hardly acting. His antagonists are suitably psychopathic, cunning, and ruthless. Secondary characters reflect the human stock that went there in the prison ships. The film is good, although could be slow for some at times, and there is an air of impending futility and doom, perhaps more to do with colonialism than the film. The camerawork is good, the scenery and colour splendid. Not that bad at all, overall.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shock and awe, 14 Jun 2007
This review is from: The Proposition [DVD] (DVD)
This is one enormously brutal yet beautifully crafted movie. It's poignancy never ceases to relent, one moment highly disturbing the next intoxicatingly moving. The dialogue is pure perfection and in casting John Hurt to deliver the most absorbing invective the director was inspired.

Wonderful.
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The Proposition [DVD]
The Proposition [DVD] by John Hillcoat (DVD - 2006)
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